Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Episode 4: Goldenfields and Triboar - Running Storm King's Thunder

In Episode 4, I get around to the Goldenfield and Triboar encounters. There's a lot to unpack in this episode. No major spoilers until after minute 20. Topics listed below the video.



(2:00) Streamlining the session to not waste gaming time
(9:02) Legacy Weapons (https://ragingowlbear.blogspot.com/2018/01/legacy-weapons-in-dnd-5e.html)
(16:25) Tips for running large combats scenarios
(22:40) Using the area maps as a pseudo battle map

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Episode 3: Player Visuals, Maps and Handouts - Running Storm King's Thunder

Apologies for the rough end edit. The video was interrupted by my feverish 3 year old, so I had dad duties. I will get back to Goldenfields and Triboar in the next video, which I will try to release ahead of schedule.



In this episode:
(3:06) Finding miniatures in the clearance toy aisle or online
 Diana figure (http://amzn.to/2nagUh1)
 Aquaman figure (http://amzn.to/2E5XMss)
(8:22) Cheap gridded wrapping paper
(9:07) Mapping large encounter areas like Grudd Haug
(13:15) Todd McFarlane figures from Ebay
(18:03) Player visuals / NPC portraits
(20:40) Pathfinder NPC face cards (http://amzn.to/2Dvl1v3)
(26:45) Player maps
(33:00) Don't hide your town's locations/features from the players

Monday, January 22, 2018

D&D/OSR: Legacy Weapons in D&D

Illustration by Daniel Ljunggren
(c) Wizards of the Coast
I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with magic items. As a DM, I’ve always wanted magic items to be a rare and cherished item in a character’s inventory. The challenge is that, as characters level up, that +1 Longsword becomes less useful and will be discarded for the next powerful “plus” that comes along, no matter how fancy a name you might give it.

Because I do not want to have to churn new magic items through the party every few levels (supposed to be rare, right?), I’ve had to come up with ways to keep existing items in the player’s inventory fresh. In this regard, I’ve stolen come up with ideas to improve magic weapon: Enchantment (rune/gem) Slots and Legacy Weapons.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Episode 2: Session 0, Miniatures, Terrain - Running Storm King's Thunder

In Episode 2, I speak more generally about improving your game in the first half hour (no spoilers). Storm King Thunder specific tips come in the second half hour (mild spoilers).



(1:40) Importance of Session 0 (follow-up on the blog post from the other day).
(15:00) Using Assault of the Giants board game miniatures (https://youtu.be/g9-aQspYtJs)
(20:12) Simple ways to use crafting to improve encounters
(22:20) Paper crafting as a simple way to create 3D elements (more on papercraft here)
(28:00) Leveling in D&D 5e and Storm King’s Thunder
(32:15) Putting the brakes on leveling for Nightstone and bridges to the next chapters
(33:45) Alternate utilization of Zephyros and Harshnag… and other throw-away NPCs
(38:50) Extending the mid-tier levels prior to getting into the main SKT story
(41:25) Finding other adventures that can tie into the SKT story arc
               (43:05) D&D 5th Edition Adventures by Level
               (44:15) Death in the Cornfields
               (49:15) Mustering at Morach Tor (Dungeon #144)
               (N/A) Kraken’s Gamble

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

GM 101: Why is Session Zero Important?

I often see the question “What is Session Zero?” on social media… or if they haven’t heard of “Session 0” before, one might see a complaint like “I wanted a wilderness-savvy ranger traveling between settlements and exploring the frontier, but everything in our campaign is in this giant capital city. I never get to use my character’s [insert favored class abilities here] and feel less than useful in the game… What can I do?”

[ UPDATE: I also talk a big more about Session 0 in my video blog here: https://youtu.be/q2cOMVfdJoU ]

Expectations


Session 0 is about setting expectations. It provides a way for the GM to outline what the campaign is about, give a rough sketch of setting details, what races, classes or other options are available (or if any do not exist or have some caveat) and any other details pertinent to to the players prior to character creation.

It also serves as a place to come to an agreement about the game. Remember that D&D and similar RPGs are a shared storytelling experience. It is not wholly up to the GM to dictate everything about the game, unless the players are fine with being passive about the game world particulars.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Episode 1: Nightstone and Chapter 3 - Running Storm King's Thunder

I started out my blog posts on Storm King’s Thunder as a series of articles, but there is just so much to talk about, it’s just much quicker to do some extemporaneous videos instead of writing it all out (ain’t nobody got time for that). I have a lot to say, and video seems to be the better medium... So this is kind of a video reboot of the SKT series. This first episode focuses on the introductory chapters of Storm King’s Thunder and tips for starting out. Forgive me if I meander a bit. Episode 2 will be much tighter (30 minutes) with more of a scripted outline.



In this episode, I discuss:
  • Tom Lommel’s Disorganized Play videos (1:30)
  • Getting a handle on the sprawling Chapter 3 hooks and scenarios. (3:20)
  • Using a Google Doc (or other note software) to mine ideas out of Chapter 3. (8:00)
  • Write a one-sheet summary or encounter packet for upcoming encounters. (12:00)
  • Coming up with better introductory hooks than the weak ones in the book. (13:00)
  • The perils of using Storm King’s Thunder outside of the Forgotten Realms. (16:50)
  • Stealing other’s ideas. (19:00)
  • Teasing the broader story and mystery to the players. (19:40)
  • Tying the Nightstone attack back into the larger plot. (22:00)
  • Buffing Nightstone for higher level parties. (23:30)
  • Making set piece encounters more interesting with 3D visuals. (29:00)
  • Dollar store deals on gaming paper. (31:00)
  • More on 3D visuals and crafting. (34:20)
  • Teasing an upcoming video on the adventure in Dungeon #144. (38:00)
Some images of my 3D set ups using papercraft, styrofoam, Dwarven Forge, or even Lego.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

D&D Miniatures: New Plastics from Hero Forge

Hero Forge, the miniature 3D printing service, has again updated their plastic offerings. Aside from the somewhat pricey metals, they now offer “Plastic” and “Premium Plastic”. Premium Plastic, which I wrote about previously, used to named Gray Plastic when it was first introduced (replacing Ultra Detail). What used to be Strong Plastic (Nylon) is no longer offered. It was not particularly good, as the texture was too rough to take paint well. The newest offering, replacing Strong Plastic is just called Plastic.

Full disclosure: Hero Forge offered me a figure to test out without any expectation that I’d write a review. They were looking for feedback for their new material, but were open to any post I’d like to make about it.

First off, I have to say the figure creator has a lot of new options. There are more two-handed weapon poses, more weapons, more outfits, more headgear and more skin options. Many of the items from my character creation wish list I identified in my last post have been addressed. They could probably add a few more pose variants, but that’s a nit pick. I’m even more impressed with the character rendering options than before. Bravo, Hero Forge.

So how does Plastic compare with Premium Plastic?


The Plastic option costs $19.99 while the Premium option costs $29.99. The new Plastic option appears (I’m assuming here) to use Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) while the Premium option uses Stereolithography printing.  Stereolithography allows for a much finer detail as the layers are much thinner.

Halfling Sorceress printed with the Plastic option
Halfling Sorceress printed with the Plastic option
The detail on the Plastic model is better than their prior offerings. The quality is much better than the old “Strong Plastic”, and probably equivalent to the “Ultra Detail” they used to offer. However, you can still see the banding created by the FDM process.

This means there will be a little bit of challenge hiding this texture when the model is painted. This is not generally a major problem if you prime and paint, but can become apparent on broad or flat surfaces like a cape or shield. A slightly thicker layer of paint should help with this, but if you use washes to shade, the wash may follow the contours left by the printing process, rather than the figure detail. Priming is a must.

Secondarily, some fine details will be lost. In the above picture, you see an up-close view of the standard Plastic offering. I added a black wash to allow for better pictures. Keep in mind that the wash over-emphasizes the print layers.

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